Crossing Cultures and Borders in International Online Distance Higher Education

Volume, Issue - Date: 
Volume 13, Issue 2 - August 2009
Gulnara Sadykova, University at Albany
Jennie Dautermann, SUNY Center for Professional Development in Syracuse
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access, distance education, online education, international students, higher education, culture, cultural differences, institutional policies, educational technology, teachers' beliefs, students' expectations

The growing demand for higher education worldwide, along with global expansion of telecommunication technologies, give online distance education a potential world-wide reach for institutions in many countries. Given the persistent international digital divide and the potential for the host institutions and languages to be those of wealthy, industrialized countries, international online distance higher education (IODHE) has great potential for educational and cultural imperialism. Therefore institutions contemplating expansion into international distance education must accommodate a number of changes that would enable building the safe learning/teaching environment needed for development of a successful course. Drawing on literature of domestic and international online teaching and learning, multicultural studies, as well as personal international teaching and learning experience, the authors examine four domains where these changes are of critical importance: 1) host institution, 2) technology, 3) learning models of students, and 4) teaching models of faculty. The paper discusses issues and practices in each of these domains and offers general recommendations for institutions participating or planning to participate in cross-border/cross-culture online education.